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How to Prevent Being Ripped-Off When You Become Elderly

grandmother and granddaughter making jam in kitchen

It is estimated that $37 billion is stolen from elderly Americans every year. Here are some tips on how you can ensure your parents (or you in the future) can avoid becoming a victim of financial abuse:

1. Establish an estate plan

Get help with an estate plan while you are still of sound mind and body. This is perhaps the most meaningful way to protect your assets. When you work with us, we're not just putting in place form legal documents, but truly becoming a trusted advisor to your family. You must choose your agents and trustees wisely, naming people who will know how to handle your financial affairs as you would like, so it's important to have expert advice.

2. Select your health care agent and agent for finances

Choose your health care agent and the person you give financial power of attorney with great care and do not let yourself be pressured into changing agents against your better judgment. For example, a trusted friend could be a better choice than an adult child with out-of-control debt or a substance abuse problem. Don’t feel pressured into choosing a child just because your child is family. Family isn’t always the best choice.

3. Open a "convenience account"

Rather than adding an adult child to a checking account as an owner, open a "convenience account" at your local bank. A convenience account will allow somebody else to write checks and pay bills, but will not make them an “owner” of the account. That could be especially important for asset protection if the child has debts they cannot pay. If they are an owner on the account, your assets are fair game for their debt collectors.

4. Keep control of your assets

Do not sign ownership over assets you need to meet expenses to your children simply so they can avoid probate. Probate is an expensive hassle and we want to ensure your children don’t get stuck dealing with the Court either, but the way to do it is to use a Trust, which can be established to keep your assets out of Court and ensure they are not at risk from your child’s divorce, creditors, or lawsuits.

5. Do not add an adult child to the title of your house

Your house could be in jeopardy if the child ends up in financial hot water, whether through careless spending, a severe accident, or long-term illness. Your child’s creditor can go after your house to settle debts if the child’s name is on the title.

One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the protection of yourself and your family through thoughtful estate planning.

This article is a service of the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC, an estate planning law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by contacting our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

DISCLAIMER: All information available on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. You should contact an attorney directly regarding your specific situation. Use of and access to this website or any of the email links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC and any users or any other party.


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